Yitro, Siman 4 יתרו, ד׳
1 א

וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ. שִׁבְעָה שֵׁמוֹת יֵשׁ לוֹ: יֶתֶר, (שמות ד, יח) שֶׁיִּתֵּר פָּרָשָׁה בַּתּוֹרָה פָּרָשַׁת הַדַּיָּנִין. חוֹבָב, (במדבר י, כח) שֶׁחִבֵּב אֶת הַתּוֹרָה. כְּשֶׁבָּא לָאָרֶץ, נָתְנוּ לוֹ דֻּשְׁנָהּ שֶׁל יְרִיחוֹ, וְאָמַר: כָּל עַצְמִי לֹא בָּאתִי וְהִנַּחְתִּי כָּל מַה שֶּׁהָיָה לִי אֶלָּא לִלְמֹד תּוֹרָה. וְעַכְשָׁו אֲנִי זוֹרֵעַ וְקוֹצֵר, אֵימָתַי אֲנִי לוֹמֵד תּוֹרָה. אָמְרוּ לוֹ: יֵשׁ אָדָם לוֹמֵד תּוֹרָה בָּעִיר, וְזֶה הַמָּקוֹם צִיָּה הוּא, מִדְבָּר הוּא וְאֵין שָׁם חִטִּים. כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ כָּךְ, הָלְכוּ לָהֶן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וּבְנֵי קֵינִי חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה עָלוּ מֵעִיר הַתְּמָרִים אֶת בְּנֵי יְהוּדָה מִדְבַּר יְהוּדָה אֲשֶׁר בְּנֶגֶב עֲרָד וַיֵּלֶךְ וַיֵּשֶׁב אֶת הָעָם (שופטים א, טז) הָלְכוּ וּמָצְאוּ שָׁם אֶת יַעְבֵּץ יוֹשֵׁב בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ וְהַכֹּהֲנִים וְהַלְוִיִּם וְהַמְּלָכִים יוֹשְׁבִים עִמּוֹ וְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל יוֹשְׁבִין שָׁם. אָמְרוּ לוֹ: אָנוּ גֵּרִים הֵיאַךְ נֵשֵׁב שָׁם עִם אֵלּוּ. יָשְׁבוּ לָהֶן עַל שַׁעֲרֵי בֵּית הַמִּדְרָשׁ וְשׁוֹמְעִין וְלוֹמְדִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וּמִשְׁפְּחוֹת סוֹפְרִים ישְׁבֵי יַעְבֵּץ תִּרְעָתִים שִׁמְעָתִים שׂוּכָתִים הֵמָּה הַקִּינִם (דה״‎א ב, נה). מַהוּ תִּרְעָתִים? שֶׁהָיוּ יוֹשְׁבִין עַל הַשַּׁעַר. שִׁמְעָתִים, שֶׁהָיוּ שׁוֹמְעִין וְלוֹמְדִים. שׂוּכָתִים, שֶׁהָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מְסַכִּין לָהֶם. דָּבָר אַחֵר, מַהוּ תִּרְעָתִים, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל נִכְנָסִין לְצָרָה, מַתְרִיעִין וְהֵן נִשְׁמָעִין.

Now Jethro heard (Exod. 18:1). Jethro was known by seven names. He was called Jethro (yitro) because he added (yater) a chapter to the law, that is, the chapter dealing with judges. He was called Hobab (hobab) because he loved (hiba) the law. When he came to the Holy Land, they offered him the fields of Jericho, but he said: “I brought none of my possessions with me, and I abandoned all I owned in order to study the Torah, shall I now sow and reap when I should be studying Torah?” They told him: “There is a man studying the law in a certain area that is in a desolate place in the desert, and it lacks even wheat.” When they heard this, they went there, as it is said: And the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up out of the city of the palm trees with the children of Judah, unto the wilderness of Judah, which is in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt with the people (Judg. 1:16).7See Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 3:76. The descendants of Jethro devoted themselves to Torah study. They went there and found Jabez sitting in the house of study, and the priests, the Levites, and the rulers were sitting with him, and all the Israelites were sitting there. And so they said to him (Jabez): “We are converts, how can we sit there among them?” Thereupon they seated themselves at the entrance to the school and listened and learned, as it is said: The families of scribes that dwelt at Jabez: the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, the Succathites. These are the Kenites (I Chron. 2:55). They were called tiratim (Tirathites) because they sat at the gate (sha’ar), shime’atim (Shimeathites) because they listened (from shama, “to hear”) and learned, and sukhatim (Succathites) because the Israelites made it clear to them (from mesakhim, “looked after them”). Another explanation (of Tirathites). Whenever the Israelites were confronted by danger they would blow (matri’in) their shofars, and they (Kenites) would hear them.

2 ב

וּמִי הֵם הַקֵּינִים? הַבָּאִים מִבְּנֵי בָּנָיו שֶׁל יִתְרוֹ, וּבְנֵי קֵינִי חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה. עֲלֵיהֶם נֶאֱמַר: שַׁלַּח לַחְמְךָ עַל פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם כִּי בְרֹב הַיָּמִים תִּמְצָאֶנּוּ (קהלת יא, א). בִּשְׂכַר קִרְאֶן לוֹ וְיֹאכַל לָחֶם וְנֶאֱמַר בְּמֹשֶׁה כִּי מִן הַמַּיִם מְשִׁיתִיהוּ, זָכוּ בְּנֵי בָּנָיו שֶׁל יִתְרוֹ לֵישֵׁב בְּלִשְׁכַּת הַגָּזִית.

Who were the Kenites? They were the descendants of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. It is said concerning them: Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days (Eccles. 11:1). In reward for (his invitation to Moses): Call him that he may eat bread (Exod. 2:20). (This alludes to the bread. Regarding water) it is said concerning Moses (mosheh): Because I drew (meshah) him (out of the water (ibid., v. 10). Therefore the descendants of Jethro merited sitting in the chamber of hewn stone.8Thus Jethro cast his bread upon the waters of Moses’ Torah, and his descendants were suitably rewarded.

3 ג

אָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה: וְשַׁבֵּחַ אֲנִי אֶת הַמֵּתִים שֶׁכְּבָר מֵתוּ (קהלת ד, ב). וְחָזַר וְאָמַר כִּי לְכֶלֶב חַי הוּא טוֹב מִן הָאַרְיֵה הַמֵּת. (קהלת ט, ד). אָמְרוּ לוֹ: שְׁלֹמֹה, אַתָּה חוֹלֵם וְאַתָּה פּוֹתֵר. אֶמֶשׁ אָמַרְתָּ וְשַׁבֵּחַ אֲנִי אֶת הַמֵּתִים, וְעַכְשָׁיו אַתָּה אוֹמֵר כִּי לְכֶלֶב חַי הוּא טוֹב. אָמַר: אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם: הַנָּבִיא צוֹוֵחַ הָעֲצָמוֹת הַיְבֵשׁוֹת שִׁמְעוּ דְּבַר ה' (יחזקאל לז, ד) וְהֵן שׁוֹמְעִין, וְהַנָּבִיא צוֹוֵחַ לַחַיִּים: שִׁמְעוּ דְבַר ה' בֵּית יַעֲקֹב (ירמיה ב, ד). וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ וְלֹא הִטּוּ אֶת אָזְנָם. וְאוֹמֵר: כִּי עַם מְרִי הֵמָּה בָּנִים כֶּחָשִׁים בָּנִים לֹא אָבוּ שְׁמוֹעַ תּוֹרַת ה'. (ישעיה ל, ט).

Solomon had declared: Wherefore I praise the dead that are already dead more than the living that are yet alive (Eccles. 4:2). However, later he retracted this statement, saying: A living dog is better than a dead lion (ibid. 9:4). They replied to him: Solomon, you were merely prattling, making no sense at all. First you said: Wherefore I praise the dead that are already dead, but now you say: A living dog is better than a dead lion. He retorted: I say to you: The prophet cried out: O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord (Ezek. 37:4), and they hearkened to him, but the prophet also called out to the living: Hear ye the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob (Jer. 2:4), and they did not listen nor pay heed to him. Thus it says of them: For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children that refuse to hear the teaching of the Lord (Isa. 30:9).